Friday, September 25, 2009

Fab Friday: September 25

I have loved books for as long as I can remember. Growing up an only child, books were my constant companion. I have vivid memories of late nights car trips, me bundled in the back seat, desperately trying to read by the light of the passing street lamps – catching a word here, another sentence there. Stop lights were eagerly anticipated, as I could sometimes read almost an entire page lit by the orangey glow of the sodium lights.

I read anything I could get my hands on and had worked my way through my mother’s home library by the time I was 12. I wouldn’t say that Sidney Sheldon is appropriate reading material for a tween, but it was there & I was bored.

Much as songs can evoke memories of a certain time & place, so do books. Late in jr. high school, I read Gone with the Wind. It transported me from the beaches of Southern California to the warm red hills of Georgia, complete with hoop skirt and garden party hat. High school opened the door to the world of Stephen King (and yes, I've been a little afraid of the dark ever since). College brought the revelation of C.S. Lewis (so much more than Narnia). Post-college, I read a number of awful, post-apocalyptic novellas which mirrored my personal relationships. The Harry Potter series was consumed while waiting for the birth of Big Sis. So many wonderful hours perched on the love seat, novel balanced on my belly. Iowa delivered to me the gifts of Pride & Prejudice and To Kill A Mockingbird.

I’ve been experiencing a dry spell of reading. I am desperate to return, to drink from the fountain of knowledge and water the parch of my boredom.

What are your favorite reads?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

An Open Letter to 2009

Dear 2009,

I think I finally get it. We are just not compatible. You’ve spent the last 9 months messing with my family’s health, happiness (mental & physical), home environment, finances, and overall fortitude. I don’t know what your end goal is, and at this point I don’t really care. I’m just done with you.

I’m sure you think there’s a method to your madness but I am not convinced. Don’t believe for a second that you’ve beaten us – not by a long shot. You know what our family motto is. We ARE tuff, and don’t you ever forget that.

I’m just here to tell you that I am sick of you and your shenanigans. I know we have a few more months until we can break up for good, but you are now on notice. You better shape up, or else get ready to go out with a real bang on December 31. I can’t wait to meet your big brother 2010. I hear he’s super cute, and very easy-going. Sounds good to me.

With Sincere Dislike and More Than A Little Animosity,


Friday, September 18, 2009

Fab Friday: September 18

When we moved, we made the commitment to give up cable. I was so sick of paying the huge bill every month, and we were spending way too much time with the TV on in the background of our daily life.

We bought a digital antenna and have happily settled in to a life of 7 channels (and still nothing on!). Fortunately, part of our programming is multiple channels of public TV. I love public television. Better cartoons, good cooking shows & I even get my dose of home renovation with This Old House.

My new favorite show is America's Test Kitchen. Billed as "Public Television's Most Watched Cooking Show", it's associated with Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Kitchen magazines. If you've ever read Cook's Illustrated, the TV show is like a mini-issue come to life. I like that they not only test out recipes and tools, they also tell you why different ingredients/ techniques/ tools work. And when they test tools, they test a wide range of tools - not just the top of the line.

I recently discovered that if you register for an account, you can access all the recipes from the current season. This week I made the Crunchy Baked Pork Chops (after seeing them made on the show - I am SUCH an easy sell), and I can't WAIT to make the Skillet Apple Pie. The video clips will make your mouth water.

Bon Appetit!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fab Friday: September 11

The wonderful thing about Birthday money is the possibilities. I can think of a hundred things to spend it on, but seldom take the plunge and really treat myself to something I have longed for. I tend to hold on to it, secreting it away, always waiting for the "right" moment - which inevitably means I slowly piecemeal it away on 2pm Diet Coke's and slightly off-color nail polish.

This year I broke my habit of birthday denial and purchased some new makeup.

I've used a few Laura Mercier products in the past and have been satisfied. They were effective - but as with most makeup - only as effective as the hand behind the tool. Past disappointments were put aside and I was eager for change and ready for action. When I stepped into Sephora's wonderland on that Thursday I had my mind set on what I wanted.

You see, my heart covets that elusive balance of value and exactitude. I want what I want, and I don't want to pay too much for it. Enter the tantalizing prospect of the Flawless Face Kit. This lovely set of maquillage promises to show you how to create the above-mentioned Flawless Face in 6 easy steps. Equipped with primer, tinted moisturizer, concealer (the "undercover pot"), powder, and the requisite brushes, sponge, and puff, you have all the tools to complete your desired mission. I prefer buying sets such as this because I always find at least one product I really like, if I don't like something I'm not stuck with a full-size and buyer's remorse, and because I don't tend to wear makeup every day even the pocket-sized portions last months and months.

After using this for several weeks I must admit that I have entered the Golden Triangle of Make-up. I love everything about this set but I am most especially enamored with the Foundation Primer. Much as with paint to adorn your home, your face requires, nay beseeches you, for priming before painting. This primer (unlike others I have sampled - Bare Minerals, I am sending a withering glance in your direction) applies fluidly, effortlessly, and feels like.... nothing. It provides a lovely, level playing field for the application of the next step of your choice and also helps secure that oh-so-tricky eye makeup.
Foundation Primer
Score one for Laura Mercier. And one for my (now) Flawless Face.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Day Outfit

Gap Kids tunic, Baby Gap leggings & fleece hoodie, pink socks, Saucony running shoes.

Now it's your turn, Liz.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The First Day

Big Sis starts kindergarten tomorrow. We took a school tour, saw the classrooms, the play area, library, lunchroom. We’ve walked our route to school, talked about expectations for what to do, picked out her outfit, and she even decided what she wants for breakfast (cereal and an apple). She’s ready.

I am not.

I’ve been having tremendous anxiety over this event. Not about her, really. She’ll do fine. I don’t expect her to be a star pupil, but she’s bright and funny and kindhearted. She’ll make friends, and be polite, and settle into the routine nicely.

But that anxiety snakes around my mind, wrapping me in a Medusa’s glare, whipping me into a quiet frenzy of worry.

I feel like my baby is slipping away from me. All-day school means all-day away from me. Ever since we moved and I transitioned to working from home, she’s been my constant companion. We know each other’s routines and preferences, and have a good understanding of each other. And now she’s taking this giant step away from me, with nary a backward glance. She’s moving into that time where friends feel more important than family, and parental influence begins to wane. I hope I have a few more years before that really holds true, but this is the beginning.

Will school be a haven for her? A relief from the ever-present shadow of her baby brother with his grabbing hands and gibberish squawks. Or will it be a quiet torture? Counting down the numbers on the big-handed clock, always awaiting the sound of the bell which signals the sweet moments of freedom from numbers and sounds and rules, rules, rules.

I’ve never thought she would live with us forever or become a clone of me. I don’t want to freeze her now, never allowing her to grow up - to evolve into the young woman I hope she will become. But looking back on the hazy days of my grade school years, I want to reach out a warning hand to her, tell her of the peaks and pitfalls and missteps that are to come. And yet I know that those were my lessons to learn, just as she will have her own lessons to live and learn from.

And so tomorrow I will wait. Silent in my anxiety, hands clasped quietly. Watching with pride in my eyes and a heavy heart in my chest as she walks away from me, and into her future.

Friday, September 4, 2009

August Recap

My recent lack of blogging is a direct reflection of my lack of desire to do..... anything.

And yet, I feel like August was a steady month for us.

We spent far too much time and money at Lowe's and Home Depot. Investing in paint, light switches, garbage cans, new screwdrivers, and the dozens of various and sundry items that are needed for home comfort and maintenance. We did allow a little time for testing out the riding lawnmowers - mostly at the behest of Big J, who displayed his mechanical preference by squealing, grunting, and vigorous gesturing whenever we passed through the lawn & garden section.

We didn't just spend the money, we also applied some elbow grease to undertake a few projects around the homestead. We have: painted the bathroom a soft shade of pearly white, hung a new shower curtain, hung some new curtains in the dining room, cleaned & painted the stinkiest of the basement walls (it actually made a BIG difference), upgraded a few light switches, installed a window A/C unit (which was needed for all of 4 days before our cooling trend continued) and bought a china cabinet which I am in the process of sanding & staining.

We got to know our neighborhood a little better. Colorful, no?

Thanks to a birthday gift from my sweet husband, I've also started running again, and am enjoying exploring our quiet residential streets in the cool of the mornings. The Couch to 5K iPhone app gets an A+ for motivation, too.

Oh yeah, and I was gifted with the passage of another year. Yippee.

We've even discovered the county library. This brick oasis was our saving grace one steamy afternoon. We lost power in the hot hot heat of a miserable Monday (and in the midst of an urgent work project), and so we retreated to the cool quiet of the library. While I huddled on a child sized chair and typed out my emails, my children ran amok amongst the books, pillows, and imagination stations of the kid's area.

Maybe now that the cooler Fall is upon us, I can recharge my blogging batteries and emerge renewed. Viva Fall!

Fab Friday: September 4

Well, hello Fall. It's nice to see you again. Yes, we've been very busy here, chipping away at little projects around the house, enjoying your lovely weather, and prepping for school to start. There's been lots of organizing, cleaning, shopping (clothes & shoes), and talking about the Big Day (ie the Start of School). We've had a school tour, picked out the first day outfit, mapped out our walking route, found a lunch bag, and started getting up earlier in an attempt to acclimate to our new routine.

Fall, if I were Martha Stewart, you'd be tops on my Favorite Things list. But I am not (Whew! But my bank account might not be as relieved as my psyche is). I love your cool yet sunny days, and your even cooler nights. I love wearing sweaters & jeans (my favorite uniform), and breaking out my fuzzy pink slippers in the mornings. I love warming up with a hot cup of tea, baking apple pies, and cooking delicious stews, soups, and casseroles for dinner. I love heading to the pumpkin patch with a cup of hot apple cider in hand and a fresh donut in my belly. I love little girls in knee socks & a cardigan, and little boys in Sunday sweaters. I love boots, I love Honeycrisp apples, and I love snuggling under the down duvet on my cozy bed.

Fall, you are TOTALLY Fab, and I am so glad you've arrived a little early. Why don't you settle in and stay for a while, OK?